‘Prepping Is the Most Liberating Thing’: Prepper Mom Grows 900 Pounds of Food to Last a Year

‘Prepping Is the Most Liberating Thing’: Prepper Mom Grows 900 Pounds of Food to Last a Year
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Meet the emergency prepper who grows 900 pounds of fruit and vegetables with enough in the cupboard to last a year—and even has earthquake survival kits.

Kerrina Sanchez, 37, lives on a quarter acre of land with her husband, Jason, 34, and their three children—and they grow eighty percent of the food they consume.

She began prepping during lockdown after it “opened her eyes” to becoming less reliant on supermarkets.

Ms. Sanchez spends her days harvesting and prepping the fruit and vegetables they grow for long-term storage as well as cleaning and preparing meals.

They grow all of their fruit and vegetables, recording over 900 pounds of produce last year—including 400 pounds of tomatoes, 300 avocados, squash, pumpkin, onions, garlic, cauliflowers, and Brussels sprouts.

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They have a $200 shop-bought budget for items like milk, cheese, meats, rice, apples, bananas, and cereal—down significantly from their monthly $600 budget before prepping and home-growing.

Ms. Sanchez uses methods such as water-bath canning—a process using boiling water to heat sealed jars of acidic foods—as well as pressure canning, dehydrating, freeze-drying, and vacuum sealing to “amplify” food preservation.

She estimates that their current produce could last them between eight and 12 months.

The mom-of-three packages half their food for short-term storage—around four months—whilst the other half is split equally between mid- and long-term storage, which are four to six months and 12 to 18 months.

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“We’ve always had to make a little extra food as kids don’t stop eating,” Ms. Sanchez, a homesteader and prepper from Long Beach, California, said. “But when COVID happened it was an eye opener for the whole world, and we wanted to prep on a larger scale so we’re not reliant on a grocery store.

“At the end of the day, inflation is rising, and food is available but at what cost?

“We now grow eighty percent of the produce that we utilize.

“I store produce in jars for short-term storage, Mylar bags for mid-term, and Mylar bags with an oxygen absorber in a food grade bucket for long term.”

They also have earthquake kits, which include everything they need in case of an emergency.

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“Prepping is the most liberating and satisfying thing, as it allows me to teach my children to be self-reliant and have the experiences of growing their own food,” Ms. Sanchez said. “There’s something satisfying about growing something and eating it six to 18 months later.”

Ms. Sanchez quit her job in the corporate world to focus full-time on homesteading and prepping as well as homeschooling her children while her husband, Jason, works remotely.

“At least twenty-five percent of every single day is spent prepping—at least 2 hours a day,” she said. “Two days a week are dedicated almost entirely to prepping.

“Then there’s harvesting food, cleaning, pressure canning, water-bath canning.

“Dry goods can take 30 minutes, while pressure canning can take 12 hours or so, depending what food.

“But every single day I’m doing some form of prepping,” she said. "I always have a never-ending to-do list.

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“It’s a different type of stress to corporate banking though. I can shift my to-do list and move things around and still get things done, and my kids are learning those experiences.”

Ms. Sanchez and her husband moved to a larger property in December 2021, to give them more freedom with growing.

“We try to make things as many different ways as possible,” Ms. Sanchez said. “Most dairy and bananas and apples we buy, but we do make our own butter, and we have a neighbor that has eggs, who we trade with, so we don’t have to buy at the store.

“But if we can grow it, we grow it. Our growing season is from March to October where we are.”

Their property is a quarter acre, which is rare in the suburban area where they live.

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“We do a very good job of maximizing the full space in the property,” she said. “Just in our quarter acre, we grew 900 pounds last year.”

In addition to the aforementioned tomatoes and avocados, their other produce includes strawberries, blueberries, boysenberries, peppers, herbs, lettuce, kale, eggplant, and much more.

Ms. Sanchez uses lots of different methods to help her prep efficiently, allowing her to store food for years on end.

“We’ve got two big cabinets outside full of store-bought stuff like flour, sugar, wheatberries,” she said. “The other cabinet has most of our grains and meals in jars that have been water-bath canned.

“We still have squash and pumpkins from last year that are fine to use.”

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They use the first in first out method to ensure they keep a constant rotation of their stored food.

“I rotate our meats and freeze the bread on a regular basis,” she said. “Pressure canning is about building everything up to a certain PSI [pounds per square inch], just using 2 inches of water you’re creating the pressure, which creates the heat that kills the bacteria.

“So, things like meats, you have to pressure can and that takes much longer to build up that pressure.”

Water-bath canning is where jars are submerged in water and brought to a rolling boil, she said. This kills the bacteria in high-acid foods like jams, fruits, and salsas.

Ms. Sanchez also makes homemade pasta, breads, doughs, sauces, jams, and more.

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Asked what her main reason for food prepping is, she said: “I could freeze dry food that could last 25 years, and I could send my kids to college with meals, but, at the end of the day, it’s about teaching my kids to do these things themselves.

“The freeze-drier has amplified our food preservation leaps and bounds as we can store things for much longer.

“I feel like the things I’m making today for the future aren’t necessarily for the kids’ future, but it’s teaching them the generational wealth that they can’t buy.”

Their kids have lived through COVID and even an earthquake, she said, adding that, thankfully, there was no damage done to the property. “They know if stores don’t have produce, then they have the tools to grow and produce their own.”

Ms. Sanchez’s 900 pounds of produce include:

Kiwis Blackberries Nectarines Herbs 400 pounds of tomatoes Squash Pumpkin Onions Garlic Cauliflowers Brussel sprouts Melons Corn Avocados Strawberries Blueberries Boysenberry Peppers Lettuce Kale Eggplant Flowers Edible flowers Radishes Turnips Nectaplums Pomegranate
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